Last Updated 13 Jan 2021

Charlie Chaplin’s Life Overview

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CHARLIE CHAPLIN ESSAY INTRODUCTION When I decided to do my research on Charlie Chaplin, I thought that it would have been quite straightforward; my plan was to introduce his life and his career, finishing off with his accomplishments. However, as my research progressed, I came to realise that Charlie Chaplin is a man who cannot be put into a few words. My research opens up (brought me into) a whole new dimension of his intriguing life thus drawing me into his world. Hence, I became more and more interested in discovering the man behind the name.

Therefore, I shall try my best to glorify this human being and talented actor who was adored throughout the ages. My presentation starts with a short / brief biography of Charlie Chaplin. Then, I will continue by describing his acting career which will later build up to the main characters that he interpreted. Finally, I will present to you the wonders of his great film: “The Great Dictator”. WHO WAS HE? Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on the 16th of April 1889 in East Street, Walworth, England. His parents, both known music hall entertainers in England, divorced when he was young (around 1891).

He stayed little in contact with his father. His father did not give much child support payments to his family. It was therefore up to his mother to financially support his older half-brother Sydney, Charlie Chapin and herself. Thus, he stayed quite attached to his mother. Without a father figure, he saw in his mother her determination and strength to carry on and not giving up on them by bringing them. On the other hand, his older half-brother Sydney proved to be a brother of a kind. He would be to thank later in life because he partly contributed to the early successes of Charlie Chaplin.

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There was a point when his mother’s willpower crumbled, she was sent into an asylum. Sydney and Charlie were both sent to Lambeth Union Workhouse (a place where abandoned children and orphans were sent) in 1896. Charlie Chaplin was then just aged seven. His mother came out of the asylum only to be admitted again a few years later. During this time, he went to live with his father and his step-mother but he preferred to live by himself, hiding during the day to avoid going to school and performing in musicals at night.

At the age of ten, barely knowing how to read or write, he joined a group of clog dancers; this is one of the first signs showing that he was destined to continue in the artistic field. Indeed, within a few years Charlie would become one of the most popular child actors in England. As a performer on stage, at each time it would take a few months for Chaplin to conquer hundreds of spectators. However, it was when he went back to Vaudeville acting (energetic multi-act theatre) that he discovered his talent for comic pantomime. For a few years, he would continue performing in Vaudeville.

Then at the age of twenty, Charlie Chaplin went to the United States and performed with Frederich Karno, whom Sydney was working with and introduced Chaplin to Karno. He would soon be warmly welcomed by the American audience. There he started his career as the most famous comedian that ever lived. CHARLIE CHAPLIN’S ACTING CAREER At the age of ten he started performing in musicals. At the age of 24, he became worldwide famous. In 1917, he began to become, thanks to his new found way of expression, the most famous comedian that the world has ever known.

His films became more and more witty, vifs et apparemment desinvolte et de plus en plus travailles. Charlie Chaplin wanted to explore and extend his talent of comic. He always wanted to do more, not only to please the public but also to convey the good heartedness of mankind – which was manifested in films like “City of Lights”, where love is the main subject of the film. He felt the need to talk about the dehumanisation of work in the film “Modern Times” and even more of the huge menace of fascism incarnated by the monster which has many curious resemblances to Chaplin.

But he had this irresistible need to be funny and to please the public and to be loved by the public by using the simplest of emotions whichwas by talking from the heart. Charlie Chaplin is probably the most accomplished show business man during his time. He was multi-talented – he was a good actor and also a successful director, script-writer and producer. Active and observant as he was, he portrayed his perception on things in his films. He remained true to his views on real life situations but never forgetting to add humour as he knew that life is never all black or all white.

Throughout his career, though he interpreted several characters, Charlie Chaplin never abandoned the famous character that brought him to fame: the character of “Tramp”. The “Tramp” character made him rich and it was inspired by his poverty-stricken childhood- a man-child always hoping for the better. Ironically, he became a rich man by imitating the poorest of men. Rich as he was, he could have rejected his childhood, however, he remembered where grew up as a child: East Street, Walworth, England.

Even his famous “bow-legged dance-walk”, he claims was inspired when he was in the pub ‘The Queens Head’ owned by his uncle and Charlie Chaplin saw Rummy Binks, an old waiter, do a “duck walk”. He would constantly film situations as he would observe in real life people can relate with, for example in “The Modern Times” he filmed in a factory and displayed his view of the Marxist concept of the dehumanisation effect of work.. Sound did not exist at the time of Chaplin but the actions say it all- because all is in the subtlety, all is mild, ingeniously suggested and not exaggerated. *

In 1898, at the age of 9 years old, Charlie Chaplin had his first taste of show business appearing in a clog dancing musical produced by a stage company called "Eight Lancashire Lads". In 1910, Chaplin arrived in the United States and was chosen by Mack Sennett to be in a Keystone Films silent comedy series. During this time, Chaplin created the role of the "Tramp. " It was when he left Mack Sennett to work at Essanay Studios in 1914 that he really developed the character of “The Tramp”. By the time he signed a contract with National Films in 1918, he was an experienced and well-appreciated actor who knew his value as an actor.

Therefore he was not shy to ask $1,000,000 for a film. Although, he had many projects in his mind however, he needed money to invest in his ideas and bring them to the screen. Hence, at 28 years old, Charles Spencer Chaplin becomes a millionaire and his contract with the First National gave him the control and rights to his films. The United Artists was formed in 1918 with actors Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and director D. W Griffith. Their films would become their properties. Controversy would occur when the First World War starts and he does not join to fight for his country.

Instead he makes a film “The Bond” in 1918 to show his support for the soldiers at war. In “Shoulder Arms” (1918), it is a film about the First World War and it is one of the most popular films of the First World War. He manages to demonstrate the horror and the ridiculousness of the war. In 1921, he notices Jack Coogan in a vaudeville act. He stars with Jackie in “The Kid”, … Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in “The Kid” (1921) “The Modern Times” (1936) introduces a concept Marxist- man is reduced to something underneath him, he is just an animal fed by the machine.

There is no doubt that Charlie Chaplin is a left-wing man. “Modern Times” (1936) and the Eating Machine Scene depicts the dehumanising effect of mechanization. “The Great Dictator” released in 1940 marked a new turn in terms of Chaplin’s working methods- it was to be his first talking film, and for the first time he was to begin a picture with a complete script. This satiric film on fascism came out whilst the world was devastated by two major wars: the First World War and the beginning second world war.

For this reason, Chaplin's political perspective on right-wing dictatorship was not entirely accepted by the public and it led the United States government to believe that he was a communist and when asked if he was a Jew he answered admirably that “I do not have the chance to be one”. He does not deny that he is not Jewish, he thought that it would be an implicit suggestion that he was a supporter of anti-Semitism. MAIN CHARACTERS Throughout his acting career, Charlie Chaplin has interpreted quite a few characters, of which I will talk about two of them in particular.

The first character is Charlie Chaplin’s principal personage which he calls “The Tramp clown” – a beggar. He displays this image in the way that he is attired: his black hair, a tight coat, oversized pants, pointed shoes, a bowler hat, bamboo cane, dark eyebrows and his signature square moustache. As I said before, Charlie Chaplin relates very well with real life situations. The gradual building up of this character can be linked to different historical situations; one of them could be the Great Depression.

Historically, the Great Depression in the 1920s left the rich and fortunate in a terrible state, they were left with little dignity, like a tramp, a “vagrant with refined manners of a gentleman”. Charlie Chaplin’s original way of expressing and attempt to find the funny side in situations that are not usually made fun of; make him a true comedic icon. He does not need words to express himself as the audience can fill the words in by themselves. A quote by Charlie Chaplin personifies his character: "I remain just one thing, and one thing only -- and that is a clown.

It places me on a far higher plane than any politician. " The second popular character is Adenoid Hynkel. He is the dictator of Tomania in the film “The Great Dictator”. He is one of the few to have openly criticised Adolf Hitler through the interpretation of Adenoid Hynkel. During that period of the two world wars millions of people followed Adolf Hitler and there were also people who were scared of Adolf Hitler, it made those who were scared how stupid it was to be scared of this “monster ridiculous, venomous, pathetic who wants total control of the world.

When the film came out, people immediately saw the resemblance between Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin) and Adolf Hitler. Chaplin single-handedly reduced the monster into a ridiculous, venomous, pathetic clown. Here, Charlie Chaplin was adventurous and tried to find humour in a delicate situation: the two World Wars. For his accent he related to his past in vaudeville acting. The “Great Dictator” freed people spiritually. Charlie sent a video of “The Great Dictator” to the dictator himself. This shows us that he is always up for new challenges in the films that he creates.

UNDOUBTEDLY, ONE OF CHARLIE CHAPLIN’S MOST FAMOUS FILMS: THE GREAT DICTATOR I have chosen to talk about one of Charlie Chaplin’s famous films “The Great Dictator” because of the story that lies behind it. “The Great Dictator” was a controversial film directed by and starred Charlie Chaplin. It was the first true talking picture, released on the 15th of October 1940. It is unique for its fearless criticism of Hitler and Nazism and for its portrayal of the plight of Jews in Europe. The people’s appreciation and the media’s appreciation for the film shows in its nomination for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Actor.

When interviewed about this film, Charlie Chaplin said: "Half-way through making “The Great Dictator” I began receiving alarming messages from the United Artists (... ) but I was determined to go ahead for Hitler must be laughed at. " In “The Great Dictator” the physical resemblance between Charlie Chaplin and Hitler, especially with their square moustaches is astounding. Another interesting fact was that both were born just 4 days apart and grew up in relative poverty. Charlie Chaplin in “The Great Dictator”… Adolf Hitler in a Nazi Parade … CONCLUSION

THE IMPACT HE MADE TO THE WORLD AND HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE SOCIETY AND THE ART Charlie Chaplin was a man who dimpled millions of cheeks in the early 1900's. Despite the fact that they were silent films in black and white, he put a lot of color into everyone's life. He managed to work his magic and free minds as well as speak the minds of ordinary people, whether it is about the horrors of life as a soldier in the two world wars or the dehumanization of work or about the wonderful sensations of love in “City of Lights”. He was not afraid to clearly show what he believed in.

His excellent sense of narration and subordinating the story makes him a great master of pictures. Charlie Chaplin marks me as a man who despite of great disadvantages faced when he was young, managed to transform the “nightmarish” situations that he experienced in silent comedy. He was a comedic icon of a kind. I feel that Charlie Chaplin is one of the most interesting people I have researched about. Coming from rags, he finally became a person whom everyone knows and loves. Such an impact he has made across the world that the Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom knighted him as Sir Charlie Chaplin in 1975.

He died at the age of eighty-eight years old on the 25th of December 1977. BIBLIOGRAPHY Websites ?http://www. clown-ministry. com/History/Charlie-Chaplin. html ?http://www. csse. monash. edu. au/~pringle/silent/chaplin/aaronhale. html ?http://www. east-buc. k12. ia. us/00_01/100/ms/ms. htm Photos ?http://www. images. google. co. uk ?http://www. csse. monash. edu. au/~pringle/silent/chaplin/aaronhale. html ?http://www. east-buc. k12. ia. us/00_01/100/ms/ms. htm ?http://www. vauxhallsociety. org. uk/Chaplin. html ?http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Charlie_Chaplin

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